Amazing Everyday Salmon Spice Rub Recipe – One from the Vault

Spice-rubbed Seared Salmon

Spice-rubbed Seared Salmon

Happy day after Valentine’s Day. Perhaps it is my long-term love/hate relationship with Valentine’s Day that caused me to ignore the day itself, but allow me to acknowledge it a day after. Having spent many a Valentine’s Day solo, I learned to downplay, even ignore it, long ago. And once Hubs came around (pre-Hubs moniker days), I was certainly pleased to have someone special to share the day with, but I still couldn’t get overly excited about it. After all, it’s the day-to-day that matters in life, right? So, Hubs and I started a Valentine’s Day tradition – select and prepare a menu together at home. No posh restaurant, no flowers (I wouldn’t turn them down, mind you), but a shared experience, maybe with some candlelight and a bottle of good wine. It has suited us just fine, and we have adapted over the years, too.

While I was researching our menu, I took a peak into the vault and decided to repeat a previous hit.  Spice-rubbed Seared Salmon: it’s a great recipe from either our first or second Valentine’s Day menu. And I love that I found it handwritten on paper, old school style. In fact, this recipe is so simple, I am amazed we thought this was a special occasion dish (guess I cooked a lot less back then than I do now). So, in honoring the love of the everyday, I am sharing this recipe with you now, post-holiday. Try it and let me know what you think

Spice-Rubbed Seared Salmon

  • 1 Tsp. coriander seeds
  • 1 Tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 Tsp. fennel seeds
  • 1 Tsp. firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 Tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 salmon fillets (6-8 oz each) with skin intact
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil


Heat fry pan on medium heat. Add spices and toast 2-3 minutes. Grind spices in spice mill, or use mortar and pestle. Pour into small bowl and add brown sugar and kosher salt to make the rub. Place salmon on a plate and press rub into salmon. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Spice-rubbed salmon searing

Spice-rubbed salmon searing

Preheat oven to 400F. Heat cast iron pan or other oven-proof pan and add olive oil. Heat until smoking, then place salmon skin side down on pan and sear for 4-5 minutes depending on thickness of fillet. Flip salmon gently using tongs (keep skin intact), and place pan in oven. Cook 4-6 minutes until cooked through.

Please don’t wait til next Valentine’s Day to try this!

My Gift to You: Tropical Storm Sandy Seared Char & Hearty Lentils

Hello Readers,

It has been over a week since my last post and all is well. Thankfully, we managed fine during the storm, it has simply taken a few days to get fully operational. I bet you are wondering what to prepare when you’re waiting for a tropical storm to hit a non-tropical climate? One dish came to mind last week – a mix of hearty, healthy and homey – Seared Salmon with Lentils and Balsamic Reduction.

Last Monday (pre-Sandy) we ventured to the local market  to stock up. With limited supplies available, I picked up whatever looked fresh at the fish counter, assuming it would be a few days before we could even consider a luxury like freshly caught fish. The Arctic Char fillets looked juicy and firm, and with no fresh salmon in sight, that would be it. I decided to use the Char in place of salmon fillets for my tried and true hearty fall/winter recipe. This is a multi-step meal, so I’ll prepare the lentils in advance,  and let them rest on the stove top or in the fridge. The fish and balsamic vinegar sauce can be prepared in about 15 minutes when you are ready for dinner. Highly recommend this nutrient-dense, protein-rich meal. Extra lentils make for a great lunch next day. Hubs is a fan, too. Things were a bit hectic, so sorry, no photos for this post.

The preparation is loosely based on Sally Schneider’s recipe from A New Way to Cook, replacing the lentil preparation with Jamie Oliver’s from The Naked Chef cookbook. I have modified the original lentil recipe to be vegetarian. Trust me, best lentil recipe ever.

Seared Char with Lentils and Balsamic Reduction

For the lentils, which can be prepared in advance:

  • 1 cup Puy lentils, or green lentils
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 heaped tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary or 2 tablespoons dried rosemary
  • 1 red onion or 2 shallots finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped (optional)
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salmon and balsamic reduction:

  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 6-ounce arctic char fillets, skin on (or salmon!)
  • Dash cayenne pepper
  • Dash kosher salt
  • Fresh parsley, chopped (for garnish)


For the lentils: Give the lentils a quick wash. Using a thick bottomed, oven safe pan with a lid, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and add the rosemary, onion, and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes, then add carrot. Cook for a further 2 minutes then add the lentils and fry for about 1 minute. Add the stock, put the lid on and bring to the boil, then transfer to oven and simmer in the oven for 1 hour at 300F, or until tender stirring occasionally.  By this time a lot of the stock will have been absorbed.

Add 2 tablespoons of your best extra virgin olive oil 1/2 blespoon of red wine vinegar and black pepper and salt to taste. Set aside until ready to serve salmon.

For the balsamic sauce: In a small, non-reactive saucepan, bring the vinegar to a boil over moderate heat. Reduce the heat slightly and cook until reduced to 1/4 cup and thick and syrupy. Remove from heat and set aside

For the salmon: Place the salmon skin side up on a work surface and make several shallow slashes in the skin using a sharp paring knife (this will help prevent salmon from curling when it hits the hot pan). Sprinkle lightly with cayenne pepper and salt.

Heat a large, nonstick pan (cast iron pan works great, too) over moderate heat until very hot. Place salmon in pan, skin side down and to not move for 4-5 minutes (skin should be crisp and brown). Turn fillets over, and cook for another 2-3 minutes depending on how well cooked you like your salmon. Remove fillets from pan and let rest for 1-2 minutes while you prep the rest of the dish.

Return the balsamic sauce to the moderate heat and bring to a simmer. Add the butter and stir until blended.

If using parsley, stir into lentils. Mound lentils onto plate. Place 1 salmon filet on plate, then drizzle balsamic sauce around the lentils. Repeat and enjoy.

Yield: 2 servings, with extra lentils for the next day.

Hot Town, Summer in the City: Dinner Out @ Jeffrey’s Grocery

While Dan’s been keeping it real and hyper-local, Hubs and I have been letting the others do the dirty work for us. On a sultry summer night, we hit a West Village hot spot called Jeffrey’s Grocery for dinner.  And when I say hot spot, I am not only referring to desirability, but also the temperature. The restaurant has an open kitchen which is great for the curious diner, but it doesn’t help you dry  on a hot summer’s night. The restaurant’s on a cute corner in a historic building, and you almost feel bad for the struggling AC. Jeffrey’s Grocery is a sister restaurant to Joseph Leonard’s, Fedora and Perla. Media darling owner Gabriel Stulman is a lover of all things local, sustainable and hip.

Sitting at the corner of the bar with 2 friends, we started our meal with oysters on the half shell and the Coho Wild Salmon appetizer. Our bartender and waiter had the obligatory pencil-thin mustache and an easy smile. He insisted on the Salmon appetizer, which was good, but not a stand out. I also had a glass of rose’ cava served in an old school champagne glass.

From “Sometimes I Crave” – Jonah Crab Salad

For our entrees, we had roast chicken, Jonah crab salad, pork loin and an outstanding side dish – Roasted Creamed Corn. Let me tell you about this Creamed Corn – it was awesome. It was creamy and rich and crunchy all at the same time. The chef topped it with popcorn. Nice touch, I thought.  Thank you to blogger Yijia for taking the photo above last month. Check out Yijia’s review of Jeffrey’s Grocery here.

Dinner was good, with a festive ambiance and tasty flavors. Definitely worth a return visit in the fall when the mercury drops.

Bayside Dinner in Bristol

Had a delicious meal last night at cousins Kara and David Milner’s beautiful bayfront home in Bristol, Rhode Island. Is nothing better than a lovingly prepared home-cooked, market-driven meal prepared by someone else?? Add a to-die for view and easy-going companionship and you’ve got a recipe for a perfect evening. Kara prepared Campfire Salmon, Israeli couscous and a crunchy seasonal salad.

Kara’s Camfire Salmon

The Campfire Salmon is a variation on a recipe from a handy cookbook called Simply in Season. Kara kindly walked me through the recipe briefly. Good thing about it is that you can prepare it in advance, wrap it up in tin foil, and pop it in the fridge until you are ready to grill (or bake in oven). Kara sliced up onion, placed a large filet of wild salmon on top, sliced up lemons and local zucchini to go on top, sprinked with some fresh dill, a dash of olive oil and a splash of white wine. Fold up the tin foil and cook immediately on a heated grill or 450 degree F oven, or store in fridge until ready to do so. This versatile recipe is a great way to feed a large group and you can add/subtract veggies based on what’s in season. Like it.

On the side, I loved Kara’s crunchy salad featuring heirloom cherry tomatoes and yellow cucumbers from a local CSA, crunchy fresh corn kernels, spinach, maybe some watercress (?) and sliced sweet red onions. Kara, chime in if I missed anything.

Kara’s Salad: tomatoes, yellow cucumbers, corn, spinach, red onion and watercress

And did I mention the Sour Cream Blueberry Pie for dessert?? So yummy, with a crispy lattice top and crust. Hubs refused to even taste at the mere mention of the words “sour cream.” His loss – was scrumptious. I haven’t bugged Kara yet for the recipe and probably won’t. Fear if I make it, it will go straight to my hips.

Thank you, Kara & David!

Monday Night Dinner: A Day Late, but Still Worth Talking About

I made an easy-peasy salmon recipe last night that’s definitely worth sharing. It’s from Cooking Light  – Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes. Minimal prep time, and delicious outcome. The only con is that you do have to use your oven, which can be a downer on a summer night.

From Cooking Light: Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes

What I love about this recipe is that you don’t even have to halve the tomatoes. Wash and dry them, toss with some olive oil, garlic cloves, thyme and salt and pepper. Done! The recipe tells you to mince the garlic, but I simplified it further by leaving the garlic cloves whole and smashing them. I also added a quartered hothouse tomato simply because I had it on hand. All tomatoes and garlic were from my CSA Pick-up on Saturday. This week’s tomatoes are done and done.

Tomatoes Ready to Roast

I do like roasted tomatoes. Check out another great roasted tomato recipe here.

And here’s my final product:

Final product: Salmon with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

It’s Thursday and do you know what’s Left in your CSA Basket?

Our CSA Pick-up day is Saturday and I’m usually out of food, ideas and energy for creative home cooking by Thursday night. Quick review of this week’s recipes:

But I’ve still got a few usable and useful items left, so it’s back to work tonight. I have the following left:

  • 1/3 quart cherry tomatoes – dinner tonight
  • Shallots and Garlic- dinner tonight,and these will last, so no hurry
  • Zucchini – have plans for zucchini bread this weekend, so sit tight
  • 1/2 head of cabbage – I’m out of ideas for you, cabbage head
  • 1 ear of early drought corn – Sam was going to eat for dinner, but the crazy rows look uninviting

Krazy Korn from CSA Pick-up 7/28/12

Krazy Korn is going in the compost bin.

We’ll have Salmon en Papillote and a green salad for dinner tonight. As I wrote in an earlier post, fish en Papillote is a simple to prepare dish for the kitchen weary. I’ll use the cherry tomatoes and shallots from my CSA pick-up, and then we’re ready again for Saturday’s stash.

En Papillote: Startlingly Simple, yet Sounds Super Fancy

It’s ridiculous, I know, that any time a dish has a French name, one assumes it is complicated, contains a heavy sauce and takes ages to prepare. Well, have you ever tried preparing fish en papillote? Or,  al cartoccio? Or in parchment paper, to use layperson’s terms? It is super simple, and I’d also add forgiving.  The most challenging thing might be to remember to purchase a roll of parchment paper suitable for cooking, because you probably don’t have it in your pantry. Oh, and did I mention this is a very light and healthy method, too?

Here’s a basic recipe for cooking en papillote (note I will try to use the French as much as possible):
  • Rip off a square of parchment paper (15X15 for instance)
  • Place 1 fillet of fish (that’s a fresh fillet of fish of your choice, not a Filet o’Fish) on the parchment. Try thin white fish, like sole or snapper, or denser fish, like salmon or halibut
  • Chop up some veggies that you have in the fridge. Julienne carrots, chop up asparagus, small florets of broccoli, etc, and place a handful on top veggies on top of fish fillet
  • Season with salt and pepper, and any other dried or fresh herbs to your liking.
  • Squeeze some lemon juice or lime juice (some sort of acid) and a drizzle of olive oil
  • Pull one side of the parchment paper to the other side and begin folding, eventually tucking the corner under the packet. Repeat for as many people you are serving
  • Bake in 400 degree oven for 15-25 min depending on thickness of fish
The great thing is that this is a FORGIVING method. Even if the fish is cooked a minute or two too long, it will still taste delicious. It will never get dried out because of the steam formed within the sealed packet. The downside of this method is that you can’t check for doneness. You must trust the recipe you’re following.
Apropos, this is what I’m making tonight – a great recipe from Real Simple.  Steamed salmon with asparagus and scallions. The juice from the lemon makes everything taste fresh and citrusy – yum. I skipped the potatoes (which you prepare separately), and added some cauliflower to the fish packets.  Hubs even approves of this dish, but he hasn’t had it with cauliflower before. Stay tuned…